It’s hard not to reply “ ’allo guv’na” when you’re greeted at the door of the Governor Hotel by a man in a three-piece suit and top hat.
It’s just one of the many references to Lachlan Macquarie at the new four-level pub, bistro, garden terrace and rooftop bar that’s just opened at Macquarie Park, in Sydney’s north-west. Macquarie was governor of NSW from 1810 to 1821 and some historians say he was pivotal in turning the state from a penal colony into a free settlement. (He’s also considered by at least one expert “a mass murderer who ordered the genocide of Indigenous people.”.)
On the ground floor, there's a spacious 260-seat bistro and bar, with hanging greenery, dark and natural timbers, portraits of old mate Macquarie, an open fireplace, and a grand piano. There’s also hidden nooks to retreat to, including six booths inspired by an old train carriage.
Take the graffiti-covered staircase, done by Melbourne street-artist 90°, up to the 200-person rooftop bar. It offers 360-degree views and is likely to be the place to be for the corporate crowd from nearby businesses such as Optus, Kia, Fox and TPG.
The rooftop bar is called Ess, short for The Governess, and will have a menu that makes the most of the Japanese robata grill, which imparts a smoky flavour onto sweetcorn with chilli, pork belly and miso-glazed king salmon.
“Once [the robata] is running it’d be a nice chance to explore a … cuisine where the recipes are simple but offer so much flavour,” says executive chef Luke Lashford (Sheraton on the Park, Banjo Paterson Cottage Restaurant), who is heading up the venue’s food program.
Downstairs will serve pub classics such as schnitzel with kale slaw and fries, and shared mains such as the lamb shoulder on the bone – enough to feed four. In fact, there are several options for groups, such as the tomahawk steak or a 1.2-kilogram roasted king salmon, both served with sides such as mini corn on the cob and smashed chat potatoes.
There’s also a decent selection of pizzas, which Lashford says are all hand-stretched. “It’s all about having a good dough; here we want to make it the star,” he says.
Overseeing the bar is ex-Baxter Inn and Eau de Vie bartender Andrew Ratcliff, who is mixing drinks such as The Governor, a twist on a whisky Old Fashioned. It uses spiced rum, bitters, orange zest and a blazed cinnamon stick. The Governess is made with gin, lemon, raspberry, ginger float and a torched marshmallow.
The hotel is owned by Hills District-based Momento Hospitality, which is also behind the Australian Hotel and Brewery and Bella Vista Hotel.
The Governor Hotel
9 Waterloo Road, Macquarie Park
(02) 9287 1418
This article first appeared on Broadsheet on July 26, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.